We are very grateful to the Hamish Ogston Foundation for making the largest ever investment in heritage skills in Commonwealth history. £12.26 million will be awarded over the next four years to support our Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme. The Programme will train more than 3,500 young people in heritage skills in countries where there is little existing capacity to address heritage at risk.
The Programme was launched at the Commonwealth Secretariat in May 2022 and accorded the rare privilege of using Her late Majesty’s name to honour her seventy years of service to the Commonwealth of Nations. Phase 1 of the Programme, funded by £4.6 million, supported trainees in India, Barbados, Singapore, and Antigua. Under our new Commonwealth Coronation Agreement, Phase 2 celebrates His Majesty The King’s Coronation and His Majesty’s role as Head of the Commonwealth.
Left: South Portico, former British Residency in Hyderabad, now Osmania Women's University College, in October 2022. Right: South Portico in January 2023, following the completion of the 20-year restoration project, the final stage of which our Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Training Skills Programme supported. Find out more.
The training will develop the hands-on craft skills and the sustainable strategies needed to repair historic buildings at risk and manage change in the historic environment. We will focus on those countries where local stakeholders tell us the need is greatest, and where there is little existing capacity to manage or restore heritage at risk. We are committed to helping people from disadvantaged communities and deprived backgrounds and guided by what local communities value.
The practical training will target at least twenty sites over the next four years in the Caribbean, West and East Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, including Guyana, Barbados, Antigua, St. Helena, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, India, Pakistan, Fiji, and Malta. In addition, £2 million has also been donated towards the reconstruction of Christ Church Cathedral, New Zealand, which was devastated by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in 2011, including support for the heritage skills training.
In addition to practical works, the funding includes support for bursaries to The Prince’s Foundation Summer School at Dumfries House, scholarships at The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts, Training Champions and Internships to tackle heritage at risk in target countries, regional Commonwealth Summer Schools, and the establishment of heritage skills training hubs in the Caribbean, Africa and India. We are also developing free online courses covering over twenty specific skills from stonemasonry and lime mortar to mud brick and thatch taught by experts from across the Commonwealth.
16 young people from the UK and Hyderabad trained side by side learning both practical and conceptual conservation skills. Here they are receiving instruction on surveying techniques (left) and lime plastering (right).
Managed by our Consultant Team at the Commonwealth Heritage Forum, collaborative support will come from a broad network of partners, including The Prince’s Foundation, the World Monuments Fund, Oxford Brookes University and leading architectural and conservation practices.
The Programme has a two-pronged approach, building local capacity and resilience by nurturing the heritage champions of the future, and on-site training projects, to safeguard the future of important buildings and sites at risk across the Commonwealth.
As part of our Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme we have commissioned a Vision Statement for the Roxburgh International Hub Project in the AJC Bose Indian Botanical Garden, Kolkata. The project envisages repurposing Roxburgh House, the Old Herbarium and the Old Seed Store, to create a visitor destination within the Garden. Roxburgh is one of the main priorities for action under the Commonwealth Heritage at Risk Programme and we have already funded Condition and Precinct Mapping Workshops, along with two Architectural Interns to assist staff with coordinating a conservation management plan.
Philip Davies, the Founder and consultant CEO of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum has stressed:
“Commonwealth countries share a special relationship – each part of an extended family of nations whose lives, histories and futures are deeply entwined. Crafted by local peoples over many generations, this shared built inheritance is a tangible expression of the links that bind us together.
“This huge increase in funding made possible through the generosity of the Hamish Ogston Foundation will provide a future for the past in many Commonwealth countries and nurture the local heritage champions of the future. It will help foster conservation-led, sustainable regeneration helping to build local capacity and create life-changing opportunities for young people in nations around the world.”